Leadership, Organizational Changes

May 1, 2023

Dear Students and Colleagues,

As we near the end of the semester and prepare for a new academic year, I want to share with you several leadership and organizational changes and actions that will take effect in the weeks ahead.

Office of the Provost

Following four years in her leadership role, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Liesl Folks has elected to step away from her current administrative responsibilities to focus on establishing a new Center for Semiconducting Manufacturing here at the University of Arizona. An accomplished engineer with extensive industry experience and deep knowledge in the fields of nanoscale devices and metrology, she will remain a faculty member of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Provost Folks will remain in place through the end of the spring semester, at which time I will appoint an interim leader and we will begin the process of a comprehensive and inclusive national search to identify a successor for this critical senior leadership role.

Please join me in celebrating Provost Folks’ numerous accomplishments that have advanced our University and its faculty, staff, and students, including: the development and rollout of a new general education curriculum; the completion of our world-class Student Success District; development of our pay-equity protocol for faculty; the opening of the renovated and newly constructed Chemistry Building and the Commons; the successful hires of eight new deans; the launch of the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Applied Science and Technology; and the bolstering of faculty recruitment, retention, and support initiatives.

We are fortunate that Provost Folks will remain a member of our Arizona community.


University of Arizona Police Department

UAPD Police Chief Paula Balafas has announced that she will step down from her role as Assistant Vice President and Chief of Police, effective today. We thank Chief Balafas for her dedicated service, focused on rebuilding partnerships and reimagining campus safety, and we wish her the very best.

As the University commences a national search to identify a permanent replacement, Chris Olson, commander of the Oro Valley Police Department’s Field Services Division and a 31-year law enforcement veteran who previously served as a UAPD officer and in recent years has contributed as an adjunct instructor at the University of Arizona, will serve as Interim UAPD chief. He will work closely with the campus’ Chief Safety Officer, Steve Patterson, who reports directly to me. We appreciate the diligence of the officers and staff of UAPD during this period of transition, as they support Interim Chief Olson and partner with us to keep our campus safe.

As previously announced, the University of Arizona Police Department now reports to the newly-established Office of Public Safety (OPS) led by the Chief Safety Officer. This strategic change will further elevate safety operations across campus and enhance effective coordination of ongoing security measures, including those related to implementation of the previously detailed PAX Group recommendations.

Threat Assessment and Management Team.

With the establishment of a new Office of Public Safety, our work to address and implement the 33 recommendations of the PAX Group report is well underway. As you may recall, the report offered numerous observations and recommendations regarding the University’s multidisciplinary Threat Assessment and Management Team (TAMT), composed of members representing multiple units and areas of expertise, including behavioral sciences, student affairs, legal counsel, law enforcement, risk management, and human resources.

Focused attention remains on enhancing the capabilities of TAMT both to intake community input and to evaluate and act upon reports of concerning behavior and threatening or potentially violent situations. With a TAMT charter now in place and TAMT members contributing to this important campus function, I would like to remind everyone to report any threatening or concerning incidents through the Threat Assessment and Management Team website.

Campus Safety Advisory Commission

Additionally, I look forward to the contributions of a newly created Campus Safety Advisory Commission, comprised of University and community members who will directly advise Chief Safety Officer Steve Patterson. These accomplished individuals from various disciplines and backgrounds will offer their unique perspectives as new safety and security measures are implemented:

  • Sam Dahl (graduate student)
  • Jennifer Hatcher (faculty)
  • Collier Hill (alumnus, community member)
  • Amanda Kraus (administrator, faculty)
  • Jenny Lee (faculty)
  • Abhijay Murugesan (medical student)
  • Barak Orbach (faculty)
  • Kara Riley (alumna, community member)
  • Christina Rocha (staff)
  • Praise Zenenga (faculty)

The Commission, which has convened for the first time, will meet regularly over the next several months and throughout the academic year.

FERPA and Privacy Training

Among the various elements illuminated by the PAX Group report released in March were issues related to privacy and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974), a federal law designed to protect the privacy of students’ education records — particularly those issues specific to information sharing in matters regarding safety and security.

The University Registrar has updated its FERPA Training website with supplemental information on addressing health or safety concerns. The update to the University’s online FERPA training courses in EDGE Learning also will be completed shortly to include this information.

Because these topics are so important to those serving in any capacity at a public university, we will soon launch a FERPA and Privacy Education campaign that will benefit all University of Arizona employees, in coordination with the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of the Provost, and Human Resources. Details will be forthcoming this summer.


Human Resources

To better align services and support for employees across the University, the Division of Human Resources will be elevated to the Executive Office of the President effective July 1, with Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Helena Rodrigues reporting directly to me.

Building on the strong foundation it has established in recent years within Business Affairs, Human Resources will continue to engage colleagues across the University’s campuses and within its colleges to foster a culture consistent with our shared values. The HR team will remain instrumental in meeting the everyday needs of our people while strengthening our connections to one another.

I look forward to working closely with Dr. Rodrigues and her entire team of human resources professionals as they provide consistent support centrally for campuswide recruitment, learning and organizational development, and employee benefits management, and as they partner with units and individuals throughout the University on strategy and local solutions and guidance.

Risk Management and Safety, Facilities Management, Parking and Transportation

In conjunction with establishment of the new Office of Public Safety, we will more closely align several public-facing and public-serving units. Effective July 1, the reporting relationships of the following units will change:

  • Risk Management and Safety, under the leadership of Miguel Delgado, Chief Risk Officer, will transition from Business Affairs to the Office of Public Safety.
  • Facilities Management will move to a dual-reporting structure, connected to both its current Business Affairs home as well as the new Office of Public Safety. Facilities Management is led by Associate Vice President Chris Kopach, who also will continue to serve as Incident Command System (ICS) commander.
  • Parking and Transportation, headed by Executive Director Jim Sayre, similarly will shift to a dual-reporting relationship with both Business Affairs and the Office of Public Safety.

I am confident the collaborative grouping of these key units that interface heavily with internal and external community members will foster even greater coordination among them, particularly with regard to matters of public safety.

Cultural and Resource Centers

As shared in April, administration of — and responsibility for — the University’s Cultural and Resource Centers (CRCs) and associated programs has shifted from the Dean of Students Office to the Office of Inclusion, currently led by Interim Vice President and Chief Inclusion Officer Francisco Moreno. The affected CRCs include:

  • African American Student Affairs
  • Asian Pacific American Student Affairs
  • Adalberto and Ana Guerrero Student Center
  • Disability Cultural Center
  • LGBTQ Affairs
  • Native American Student Affairs
  • Women and Gender Resource Center

Related to this administrative reporting transition, I soon will appoint a task force comprised of internal and external experts to conduct a review of the Cultural and Resource Centers, including their reporting relationships, administrative structures and accountability, and student support services, to gain additional insight into the challenges facing the Centers and to make recommendations geared to ensuring these important student-focused gathering spaces are placed on a path to sustained success.

With these leadership and organizational changes, collaborative actions, and continued collective focus on our mission-driven purpose, the University of Arizona will remain well-positioned to continue our forward momentum into the 2023–2024 academic year while “working together to expand human potential, explore new horizons, and enrich life for all.”

Thank you, and Bear Down.

Robert C. Robbins, M.D.


The University of Arizona


This email was sent to: all students, faculty, staff, and DCCs.